A movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day has gained momentum in some parts of the US, with Los Angeles in August becoming the biggest city yet to decide to stop honoring the Italian explorer and instead recognize victims of colonialism.
Students and community members marched on the University of MI campus Monday to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day - an alternative to the Federal Columbus Day Holiday, which many see as a celebration of genocide. By identifying Columbus as the founder of the new world, and aligning themselves with him, many Italian Americans were able to argue that they played a key role in the founding of the United States, and having a holiday to honor that put them in a better position in their new society.
The Los Angeles City Council and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors recently voted to replace the Columbus Day holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day.
Organizers say Bolivian politician David Choquehuanca was to be the third speaker, but can not attend as he was denied a visa by the U.S. Embassy in La Paz. 'Columbus Day is a day that we've chosen to celebrate who we are. She says she feels like Indigenous students are underrepresented on campus.
"I think it should be noticed every day, of who we are". "The only thing that matches it's beauty is it's culture, and that's what we celebrate on this Indigenous Peoples Day, is the culture that binds this state together". However, as an Italian-American, I'm pretty ashamed of this holiday.
Syracuse community members, balancing on a rim of the Columbus Circle fountain, held up a makeshift banner reading "Columbus Didn't Discover Anything ..."
For Llanes and Almanza the ultimate change will occur when Indigenous Peoples' Day is recognized nationwide. "They do those deeds for us; they nurture us", said Moore, chair of Peaceful Advocates for Native Dialogues and Organizing Support.
"I was always raised with Native ways", Antonelli told Red Dirt Report Monday morning in front of Oklahoma City's municipal building.
Russell lead the prayer at the beginning of the celebration, as is custom for most Native American events. We've been meaning to celebrate properly, but we did not have much time to relax because we were in the middle of planning our events.
"People were just walking around by the center, and I think a lot of people didn't even know it was Indigenous Peoples Day". Above all, it is a day to honor the First Nations of America.
Festivities to commemorate Salt Lake City's first Indigenous Peoples Day in the books took place outside the downtown library and featured traditional dances, songs and prayers, as well as some contemporary celebrations, such as DJ Beeso, a Navajo originally from New Mexico, who manned the turntable.
The public is encouraged to begin to gather at 6 p.m. for food, music, poetry, performances and the first reading of the resolution to change the name of the day.
"We're on that path to justice", said Almanza.